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It was April 4th, 1994. An archeologist, William Kelso, had a hunch and a shovel. Within hours, he uncovered artifacts dating from when the Jamestown fort was first constructed in 1607. Within weeks, he had established the outlines of the famous early settlement. The first couple of hours, I began finding bits and pieces of clay tobacco pipes and pottery that I knew was the type that was made in England, and was old enough to have gone back to the James fort period. So there was a good feedback right away. Kelso determined that most of the triangle-shaped fort is buried on land owned by a private conservation group. Only a corner is covered by the river. This early European settlement was the stuff of legends. It was here that Captain John Smith led a small band of entrepreneurs to the New World. It was here they encountered the famous Indian princess, Pocahontas. And it was here that nearly 80% of the original 6,000 settlers died. Excavations have uncovered thousands of artifacts. The English goods the settlers brought with them from Erope. What we are learning about here is the material culture more of the Tudor period, the Elizabethan period, 16 century - not 17th century. And then the amount of objects here is sort of off the scale as well. But more was to come. Kelso's team made a fascinating discovery: a vast graveyard from the earliest years of the settlement. It appeared the dead were buried quickly - sometimes several to one grave. Records show there was a great famine in the winter of 1609. It was known as "the starving time". Could these remains be the victims of this great American tragedy? Jamestown survived that terrible winter, but it never thrived. It was eventually abandoned, and was seemingly lost to history. Perhaps it is fate that Jamestown laid buried for so long. If it had been dug up years ago, archeogists might not have had the modern tools they need to analyze this important heritage. Archeologists are fitting together the pieces of this historical puzzle, and creating a new story about Jamestown that may be even more intriguing than the legends of old.

Video Details

Duration: 2 minutes and 39 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: National Geographic
Director: National Geographic
Views: 110
Posted by: greenbo on Apr 24, 2010

Archeologist William Kelso discovers the Jamestown of Caption John Smith

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